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Gold Coast natural environment

We have one of Australia's most biodiverse cities. Let's explore, celebrate and work together to protect it for the future.

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Wetlands Bird

The Gold Coast boasts internationally regarded natural wetland areas and extensive mangrove and estuarine wetlands lining our major rivers and creeks.

Our wetlands are important for habitat and biodiversity conservation, marine breeding, the health of our waterways, flood mitigation and providing recreational opportunities.

Wetlands are areas that have acquired special characteristics from being wet on a regular or semi-regular basis. They are wet for a long enough period so that the plants and animals living in them are adapted to, and often dependent on, living in wet conditions for at least part of their life cycle.

Wetlands Grass

Why are wetlands important?

The importance of wetlands has been recognised internationally through the Ramsar Convention, which aims to conserve wetlands through improving the community's understanding of their importance and by maintaining their natural properties, which include:

  • Plant and wildlife habitat – wetlands are the habitat for a diverse range of animals including water birds, frogs, invertebrates, reptiles and fish. Many plants also inhabit wetlands such as sedges, rushes and many different tree species, e.g. Red Gums, Melaleucas.
  • Biodiversity conservation – as the border between terrestrial and aquatic environments, wetlands are strategic refuge areas, often supporting plants found nowhere else. Wetlands are also home to most of the migratory species of birds listed under international conservation agreements.
  • Nursery and breeding grounds – wetlands provide nursery and breeding areas for a large range of animals including fish, birds and invertebrates. Up to two thirds of fish caught off the Australian coastline spend some of their life cycle in wetlands and estuaries.
  • Water quality improvement – as water passes through a wetland it slows down, allowing nutrients and sediments to settle, thus improving water quality downstream.
  • Biological productivity and nutrient recycling – wetlands are highly productive ecosystems as they recycle the nutrients captured as water flows through. Nutrients are available for continuing plant growth and in turn provide plentiful food and habitat for wetland fauna.
  • Flood mitigation – wetlands detain floodwaters or runoff, reducing downstream flood peaks which could otherwise cause erosion and flood damage.
  • Scientific research and environmental education sites – wetlands provide excellent sites for the study of biology and ecology. They are also storehouses of knowledge about past ecological communities and climatic conditions.
  • Recreation sites, e.g. bird watching, fishing
  • Cultural heritage sites – many wetland areas are culturally significant to Aboriginal people as a traditional and important source of food, as well as being a site of cultural ceremony.

Gold Coast wetlands

Black Swan

There are many different types of wetlands throughout the Gold Coast, making our environment diverse and unique. Significant mangrove and estuarine wetlands line the major Creeks and Rivers of the City. Remnants of freshwater, eucalypt wetlands have been conserved throughout Varsity Lakes and are recognised by the State for their regional ecosystem value. Large areas of Melaleuca wetlands have also been preserved throughout Coomera Waters and provide extensive frog habitat.

In addition to natural wetlands, there are many constructed wetlands in the city. Constructed wetlands can mimic the natural functions of wetlands. Healthy flora and fauna communities can flourish and these areas are of great recreational value to the community. Many constructed wetlands also perform essential stormwater treatment prior to runoff entering our creeks and rivers.

The Gold Coast boasts some very important wetland areas including the Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area. Coombabah Lakelands is part of the internationally significant Southern Moreton Bay Marine Park and has been included on the RAMSAR register of sites. The RAMSAR register lists wetlands from all over the world, which have significant environmental value and therefore requiring protection from harm. Coombabah is also a valuable JAMBA and CAMBA site. JAMBA and CAMBA are agreements between Australia and Japan and China respectively, for the protection of migratory birds in danger of extinction, and their environment.

How can the community help protect wetlands?

Wetlands Grass

There are many ways in which the community can minimise the impact of their actions on wetlands so the ecological, economic and social values are maintained:

  • Do not feed native wildlife. Providing human food for native animals can attract pest species and may affect an animal's natural ability to forage.
  • Try not to disturb native animals in their natural environment. Keep a sensible distance and observe animals quietly. This way, animals will act naturally and won't feel threatened.
  • Dispose of all rubbish and cigarette butts responsibly. If there isn't a bin nearby, take your rubbish with you when you leave.
  • Report pollution to by completing an online Report a problem form or call the City's Health Services Section on
    07 5667 5988.

Further information

For further information please contact us on 1300 GOLDCOAST (1300 465 326).

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